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The Politics of Cooptation


  • Bertocchi, Graziella
  • Spagat, Michael


Group 1 holds political power. Group 2 threatens this power. Group 1 decreases the upheaval probability by co-opting some agents from Group 2 into a more benign Group 3. Improvements in upheaval technology lead to less co-optation. Increasing the relative size of Group 1 implies larger co-optation payments to a smaller group, decreasing the total resources committed to co-optation. In an extension in which Group 3 also threatens Group 1, although less destructively than does Group 2, co-optation transfers are reduced. Growth causes political stabilization. The theory applies to the origin of the welfare state, post-communist privatization and other situations.

Suggested Citation

  • Bertocchi, Graziella & Spagat, Michael, 1999. "The Politics of Cooptation," CEPR Discussion Papers 2156, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2156

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hillman, Arye L. & Metsuyanim, Kfir & Potrafke, Niklas, 2015. "Democracy with group identity," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 274-287.
    2. Lazarev, Valery, 2007. "Political labor market, government policy, and stability of a non-democratic regime," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 546-563, September.
    3. Graziella Bertocchi, 2011. "The Vanishing Bequest Tax: The Comparative Evolution Of Bequest Taxation In Historical Perspective," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 107-131, March.
    4. Cervellati, Matteo & Fortunato, Piergiuseppe & Sunde, Uwe, 2011. "Democratization and Civil Liberties: The Role of Violence During the Transition," Economics Working Paper Series 1108, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    5. Bertocchi, Graziella, 2011. "The enfranchisement of women and the welfare state," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 535-553, May.
    6. Ghosal, Sayantan & Proto, Eugenio, 2009. "Democracy, collective action and intra-elite conflict," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1078-1089, October.
    7. Jody Overland & Kenneth Simons & Michael Spagat, 2005. "Political instability and growth in dictatorships," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 445-470, December.
    8. Graziella Bertocchi & Chiara Strozzi, 2010. "The Evolution of Citizenship: Economic and Institutional Determinants," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(1), pages 95-136, February.
    9. Cervellati, Matteo & Fortunato, Piergiuseppe & Sunde, Uwe, 2014. "Violence during democratization and the quality of democratic institutions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 226-247.
    10. Graziella Bertocchi, 2006. "The Law of Primogeniture and the Transition from Landed Aristocracy to Industrial Democracy," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 43-70, March.
    11. Bertocchi, Graziella & Spagat, Michael, 2004. "The evolution of modern educational systems: Technical vs. general education, distributional conflict, and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 559-582, April.
    12. Pellicer, Miquel, 2009. "Inequality persistence through vertical vs. horizontal coalitions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 258-266, November.
    13. Petros Sekeris, 2011. "Endogenous elites: power structure and patron-client relationships," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 237-258, September.
    14. Bertocchi, Graziella, 2004. "Growth, History and Institutions," CEPR Discussion Papers 4738, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Gradstein, Mark, 2017. "Government decentralization as a commitment in non-democracies," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 110-118.
    16. Cervellati Matteo & Fortunato Piergiuseppe & Sunde Uwe, 2012. "Consensual and Conflictual Democratization," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-51, December.
    17. Gradstein, Mark, 2004. "Inequality, Democracy and the Emergence of Institutions," CEPR Discussion Papers 4187, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    18. Matteo Cervellati & Piergiuseppe Fortunato & Uwe Sunde, 2008. "Hobbes to Rousseau: Inequality, Institutions and Development," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(531), pages 1354-1384, August.
    19. Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico, 2011. "Race v. Suffrage. The Determinants of Development in Mississippi," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 071, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    20. Fan, C. Simon, 2006. "Kleptocracy and corruption," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 57-74, March.
    21. Mark Gradstein & Maurice Schiff, 2006. "The political economy of social exclusion, with implications for immigration policy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 19(2), pages 327-344, June.
    22. Mark Gradstein, 2014. "Government Decentralization as a Commitment," CESifo Working Paper Series 4809, CESifo Group Munich.
    23. Amihai Glazer & Mark Gradstein, 2001. "Appropriation, Human Capital, and Mandatory Schooling," CESifo Working Paper Series 538, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item


    Cooptation; Privatization; Upheaval; Welfare State;

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy


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